CHAPEL HILL — North Carolinas recipe for success has been the same for three years: Get a lead, and Scott Goodwin will make it stand up.
The third-ranked Tar Heels did it again Tuesday night, riding a first-half goal by freshman forward Danny Garcia and Goodwins 14th shutout of the season to a 1-0 victory over Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC Mens Soccer Championship at Fetzer Field.
Second-seeded UNC will play in the semifinals Friday at Germantown, Md., against sixth-seeded Virginia, which advanced past Wake Forest on penalty kicks 5-3 after they played to a 2-2 tie in double overtime. Duke (8-8-2) will wait for Mondays NCAA tournament field to be announced, hoping it has done enough to earn an at-large bid.
Im sure were going to be in that gray discussion area for sure, Duke coach John Kerr said.
UNC (15-2-1) has won 39 straight games in which it has scored first and is 43-1 over the past three seasons with the first goal.
Judging by the way our defense is playing, if we go up by a goal I have the utmost confidence in these guys, said Goodwin, who has shut out his past four opponents.
The goal came at 21 minutes, 42 seconds, when freshman midfielder Raby George knifed in and stole the ball off Dukes Zach Matherss foot at the top of the penalty area.
I saw the right back pass to the central back, and I knew he would turn but might have a tough time, said George, who dropped a pass to a waiting Garcia.
I was surprised I had so much time, said Garcia, who beat Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw for his fourth goal with a shot to the upper left corner. I saw the keeper cheating to the far post.
Theyve contributed all year long in different ways, UNC coach Carlos Somoano said of the two freshmen. Stats or no stats, theyve been playing well for us on a regular basis.
Kerr said the Blue Devils failed to take advantage of their chances. After being outshot 4-1 in the first half, Duke seized the advantage after halftime and realized a 7-5 edge in shooting. It wasnt enough.
Were falling a little bit short at the crucial times, and its disappointing because we had three really good looks at the goal in the second half and didnt hit the target on any of them, Kerr said.
Ryan Thompson had Dukes best look at the goal in the 75th minute, but his shot from 14 yards was just wide.
It should have been a goal, no question about it, Kerr said. He did everything right. He opened up his foot, side-footed it. He just didnt hit the target, and thats disappointing because that was a great chance. I thought that was the one. And Nat Eggleston had two really good looks when the ball fell to him in the box, and normally hes a better finisher than that.
The loss leaves Duke squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament.
Were keeping our fingers crossed that we get the nod and get another lifeline, Kerr said.